“The Stennis Center believes that no government, regardless of its history and structure, can be better than the people who make it work. That is why our focus is on people over policy. We are confident that if we can get the best possible people in public service leadership, we will also get good policy.” – Executive Director Rex Buffington
The Stennis Center for Public Service is a federal, legislative branch agency created by Congress in 1988 to promote and strengthen public service leadership in America. The Stennis Center is headquartered in Starkville, Mississippi, adjacent to Mississippi State University and has an office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Programs of the Stennis Center are funded through an endowment plus private contributions from foundations and corporations.
The Stennis Center’s mandate is to attract young people to careers in public service, to provide training for leaders in or likely to be in public service, and to offer development opportunities for senior congressional staff. Products of the Stennis Center include conferences, seminars, special projects, and leadership development programs.
The Stennis Center has a history of successful past events which relate to Congress and leadership. During each session of Congress, the Stennis Center operates a unique, bipartisan development program for 30 of the most outstanding high ranking congressional staff in the House and Senate. These veteran staff members have in turn started a mentoring program for younger congressional staff, called Emerging Leaders. The Stennis Center also has a Civil-Military Leadership program which connects freshmen Members of Congress with leaders in the armed services. In addition, the Southern Women in Public Service conference, established in 1991, has featured Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, Geraldine Ferraro and nearly every female member of Congress from the South. Over 300,000 high school students from across the country annually compete for a spot at the John C. Stennis National Student Congress.
The Stennis Center forms partnerships to expand its capacity to promote public service. With the the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, the Stennis Center operates a program which sends two former Members to college campuses around the nation to meet with students about the importance of public affairs. The Stennis Center also conducts programs with the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation to strengthen the leadership abilities of Truman Scholars – young people who have demonstrated a proclivity for public service careers.
The Stennis Center welcomes sponsorship for its programs from foundations and corporations with an interest in the quality and character of public service in America.